Marriage Following Divorce

Since 2002 it has been possible for people who have previously been married and divorced, and whose former spouse is still living, to marry within the Church of England. In November 2002, the House of Bishops issued Advice to Clergy concerning the procedure to be followed when one of the applicants for banns or a marriage licence is a divorced person with a former spouse still living.

When a couple wish to apply for Banns or a Common Licence, if one of them is a divorced person with a former spouse still living, the minister concerned should interview the couple, in accordance with the Advice to Clergy, and ask the couple to respond to the questions raised in the Advice.  The advice of the Bishop should then be sought on whether the marriage may proceed. Alternatively, the minister may write directly to the Bishop, while the couple wishing to marry make their application for a Common Licence to the Registrar. The Registrar will then wait for the Bishop’s approval before issuing a Licence.

Whilst parishioners normally have the right to be married in the parish church of the parish where they live, a priest is entitled by law to refuse to remarry a divorced person in church whilst the former spouse is still living.